Yesterday, November 19, Bernie Sanders spoke at Georgetown University about democratic socialism. Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative member of Seattle City Council responds to his message in this video (see also transcript below).
Sisters and Brothers,
Socialism is rising.
Just a few minutes ago, Bernie Sanders addressed working people in the United States to speak about democratic socialism. Hundreds of thousands will watch it. Such an audience for socialist ideas has been unprecedented in the U.S. in several generations.
Bernie Sanders is giving voice to the enormous desire for change after a decade of economic crisis where millions lost their jobs and homes and the “recovery” has overwhelmingly benefited the 1%. There is deep anger because the political process has been completely dominated by big corporate interests; structural racism and sexism remain entrenched; and because no decisive measures are being taken to address global warming.
Underlying all of this is a diseased and decaying social system - the failed system of capitalism.
Poll after poll show that people under 30 now support “socialism” and “capitalism” in roughly equal numbers. And we also see that support for socialism leads over capitalism by 12 percentage points within Democratic Party supporters nationally.
But what is socialism?
Socialism is a democratic society based on human need not corporate greed. A society of social, gender and racial justice. A world where black and brown lives matter. A world that will have addressed the crisis of climate change.
How can such a society be achieved?
Take the huge challenge of climate change: 90 companies have caused almost two thirds of all carbon emissions in human history. All for amassing limitless profits. Capitalism is destroying the planet.
We need to take these companies into democratic, public ownership in order to move fully towards renewable energy, and to keep fossil fuels where they belong - under the ground.
Socialism is about working-class democracy, where the 99% make the key decisions, instead of Wall Street and their global capitalist casino.
The 500 largest corporations and giant banks that dominate our economy, control our political system and degrade our environment should be taken into democratic public ownership. This way, the resources of society could be used to benefit society as a whole.
The great German socialist, Rosa Luxemburg, posed the alternatives facing humanity long ago - she said that the future will either be one of socialism or barbarism.
We see barbarism globally today in many forms. We see it in the development of the Islamic State and the horrific attacks in Paris and Beirut last week. We saw it in the barbarous invasion of Iraq by a US government on behalf of a tiny cartel of rapacious oil companies.
The devastating consequences of the Iraq invasion, as well as the preceding decades of imperialist policies, are tearing apart the very fabric of society in the Middle East, fueling the rise of ISIS, and creating the biggest refugee crisis in world history.
We see the shadow of that barbarism here in the US, with huge poverty next to exorbitant wealth, and the rise of anti-immigrant, racist policies emanating from the Republican Party.
We have an alternative to this barbarism. A socialist world.
Bernie said that he supports a coalition of countries to fight ISIS. However all those governments represent the interests of their local capitalist ruling classes. As a socialist, I believe we need a movement of working people, of all nationalities, of all religions or no religion. A movement in the common interests of working people in the Middle East and internationally, to challenge both ISIS and Western imperialism, to create an alternative to the deep humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.
Bernie Sanders spoke today of FDR, the New Deal, and Social Security.
It is no accident that the victories on Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s took place during times of great, historic movements of the working class and youth.
In 1935, when Social Security was passed, workers across America were on strike for a better life. They fought to unionize through sit down strikes. They took over and occupied their factories, and refused to give them back until their unions were won and their demands met.
It was these American workers, this radical labor movement, that won Social Security. Contrary to the popular myth, it was not handed to them by the benevolence of the ruling elite headed by FDR. In fact, Roosevelt had run for office in 1932 on a promise of fiscal conservatism – of shrinking social programs, not expanding them.
The workers movement that won the New Deal was led by socialists.
Similarly, Medicare and Medicaid were won in the context of the radicalized 1960s Civil Rights movement. The battle against segregation, lynchings, against the grotesque brutality of Jim Crow racism. They were won under the pressure of the black activists and also of the developing movement against the war in Vietnam.
Social struggle needs to be combined with building a new political force for the 99%. Bernie Sanders’ campaign, which raised $28 million in the past three months and has refused corporate donations, shows the potential for independent working class politics to fight against corporate politics.
Bernie is absolutely correct to call for a federal 15 dollar minimum wage, single payer health care, free college education, and defeating the power of the billionaire class to defend democracy.
That’s why I want Bernie Sanders to win the presidency and defeat the agenda of the Billionaire class.
But in order to win, Bernie Sanders needs to take on Wall Street and all those corporations who dominate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party machine.
To win, Bernie Sanders needs a mass movement from below and an organization, independent of corporate cash. He needs a mass party of and for working people.
Let’s come together to build such a movement and such a party, against the Republican right wing and independent of big business, Clintonite Democrats.
This race is not a race between two progressive candidates. Hillary Clinton served on the Wal Mart board of directors, while Sanders supports the fight for $15. Hillary Clinton is a hawkish supporter of military intervention and voted for the Iraq war. Clinton is the candidate of Wall Street and the Billionaire class.
Clinton does not deserve the support of working people and progressives and can not be supported by socialists.
Win or lose, Bernie Sanders’ inspiring campaign offers a unique opportunity to spread socialist ideas to a new generation, to build an independent mass party of working people, to build a new movement capable of defeating the stranglehold of Wall Street over our society.
We can organize the fight back against the billionaire class. Join me in this struggle, join Socialist Alternative.